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‘Parrikar’s absence has an adverse effect on governance … I don’t know whether it’s worth it to form a government’


TOI Q&A

The political situation in Goa is fluid following the illness of chief minister Manohar Parrikar. Digambar Kamat, former Congress chief minister of Goa and sitting MLA, spoke to Swati Mathur on the situation.

Governance in Goa is understood to be in limbo with chief minister Manohar Parrikar indisposed.

The Chief Minister has been unwell for months. The real problem is that you neither have the CM, nor an officiating CM. Normally, in such situations, someone is asked to officiate so that decision-making doesn’t stop. That has not happened. No one knows what is happening, or what will happen. Where is the governance, or the government?

There is a view that Goa is suffering because of bureaucratic paralysis, not because political leadership is in limbo.

Our business rules demand that the CM head the cabinet. Every policy or financial decision is subject to approval of CM. So Parrikar’s absence naturally has an adverse effect on governance. Today, administration has come to a standstill. Technically, Pandurang Dhavalikar is number two in the government but he has no authority to sign papers; he said so publicly. Dhavalikar demanded he should be formally appointed officiating CM failing which his party will contest the parliamentary elections separately.

The important thing is the BJP’s own workers, and those of the coalition partners, are debating this issue.

How long can this impasse continue?

This is probably unique. Such a thing hasn’t happened anywhere. There are certain things that are not clearly defined in the Constitution and this is one of them. Now their MLAs and ministers are speaking. So BJP is facing a problem. Goans have been taken for a ride.

As the principal opposition, what is Congress doing?

We have met Governor Mridula Sinha thrice and requested her to convene a one-day session in order to resolve key issues. Mining remains closed. Sand supply is closed and all construction activity has come to a standstill. The fish issue has cropped up due to traces of formalin and import of fish is completely banned. As a result, export of fish from other states is also banned. Goan trucks are being sent back. These are serious issues.

There are several unhappy voices emerging from within the ruling coalition. Has anyone — individual or party — reached out to Congress to ‘correct’ this situation?

As far as formation of government is concerned, I will not make any comment. I do not know whether it is worth it, in this situation, to form a government. The scenario is so bad today. Whoever forms the government has to deliver. There is anger against the ruling dispensation. That anger will be diverted towards those who try to form the government, if they are not able to deliver.

You are saying Congress will not be able to deliver, if it were to form the government?

No, I am saying take the example of the mining issue. It is a central subject and unless the Centre helps you, and takes a call, you can’t resolve it. If another government comes, which is not a part of the ruling dispensation in Delhi, they will also not be able to solve the issue. One must see the pros and cons. It is very easy to form the government.

So Congress will make no move to form the government in Goa?

The party’s stand may be totally different from my position. The party has to take a call; examine the pros and cons. When people ask me for my opinion, I tell them these are the ground realities. And people agree with my point of view. They agree that if we form the government, we must be able to deliver. This is my opinion. I am the only chief minister in the state who completed his five-year tenure despite heading a coalition government. I know how difficult it is to run a coalition government. So in such a situation, the party has to take a call.

Several former Congress leaders have crossed over to BJP or floated their own outfits. Has there been an effort to iron out differences and bring them back?

When I was leader of the government, I was able to survive because I had good relations with everyone, cutting across party lines. I don’t believe in vengeance politics or going after people who didn’t support me. My strongest asset has been my accessibility. Pratap Singh Rane and I went to Delhi to meet the leadership (before 2017 election) and we said it is Congress’s responsibility to bring the opposition together. It created a lack of faith that we were not able to influence the leadership.

Did you feel let down by the party ?

In Congress, various leaders give opinions. Then we leave it to the leadership to decide. One has to accept the decision that is made. We conveyed what we thought was in the best interest of the party. Others may have said differently.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.



via TOI Blog

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